Pubdate: Mon, 14 Nov 2011
Source: Florida Today (Melbourne, FL)
Copyright: 2011 Florida Today
Author: Susan Zwieg
Note: Susan Zwieg was a lecturer at BCC the past school year and lived in
Cocoa. She is temporarily teaching at St. Petersburg College.


The drug testing bill for welfare recipients in Florida, specifically
for those receiving cash benefits under Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families, should be repealed.

The bill does not include drug testing for those receiving other types
of subsidies, such as food stamps. (These cash benefits are $180 a
month for one person and $364 for a family of four.)

The state would reimburse the welfare recipients if they tested
negative. The bill recently was halted because of an appeal by a
single father and Navy veteran who felt the requirement was
unconstitutional. Florida federal judge Mary Scriven (a George W. Bush
appointee) agreed with the plaintiff.

Gov. Rick Scott assumed in May, when he signed the bill, that so many
families receiving assistance were under the influence of drugs that
it had become a burden on our economy to continue giving them
benefits. During Scott's election campaign, he said $77 million
could be saved by the state after drug testing became law, although he
did not explain how he arrived at this figure.

However, since the law went into effect, and before it was halted,
more than 7,000 people took the drug test in Florida. And only 32 of
them tested positive, according to the Florida Department of Children
and Families. At $30 a person for the drug test, do the math.
Where's the savings?

When I began the research for this debate, I decided to ask the
students in my college English classes what they thought about the
subject. The replies ranged from examples of welfare abuse and
stereotyping to astonishing real-life stories of their own struggles
to overcome poverty while raising children, working at low-paying jobs
and going to college to earn a degree.

Many of the students were upset that during these times of economic
instability and unemployment, the state government is imposing even
more hardships. They were pleased to hear about the low percentage of
positive drug tests and encouraged me to use that fact as the best
argument yet for repealing the law.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.